A HARARE businessman, George Francis Lovell, who is accused of killing his business partner in a botched gold deal, yesterday pleaded not guilty to a murder charge, but fingered unnamed senior members of society as being the masterminds behind Allan Laurence Banks’ murder.
SENIOR COURT REPORTER
Lovell appeared before High Court judge Justice Joseph Musakwa.
In his defence, Lovell, through his lawyer Advocate Thabani Mpofu, said the allegations levelled against him by the State, that he killed Banks, whose body was recovered in the early stages of decomposition stashed in the boot of his car, were unfounded, malicious and completely mischievous.
“The accused person (Lovell) will demonstrate his belief that the deceased, Banks, was murdered by certain dangerous criminals who were acting on behalf of certain senior members of society. The accused person will demonstrate his belief that the deceased met this unhappy fate as a result of a certain deal which went bad,” Mpofu said.
“The accused will deny as false and unfounded allegations that he murdered Banks at Number 88 Glenara South Avenue in Hillside, Harare, and will show that forensic evidence completely excluded the possibility of that residence being a crime scene.”
Lovell told the court that having been aware of the potential danger that Banks was in, he was naturally apprehensive about his own security and safety, particularly when Banks became “unavailable”.
Lovell, however, said he was prepared to divulge the information he had pertaining to the “hit squad” that killed Banks, but would only do so after making an application to be allowed to testify in camera.
Lovell (31), who owns Invollata Mining Group, was arrested last year after allegedly spending months on the run since July 2012 when he fled to Zambia, Tanzania and South Africa.
The court heard on July 1 2012 and at around 11am, Banks left his shop, Goodlife Appliances in Rhodesville, and proceeded to meet his brother Gordon at an undisclosed venue.
It is alleged at the time, Banks carried with him a satchel containing $20 000 and was driving his vehicle, a Toyota Corolla.
At around 12 noon, the court heard, Lovell sent his maid, Letwin Ganzwa, to buy cigarettes at Clyde Shopping Centre, situated about 2km away from his residence, and he remained alone at the house. On her return, Ganzwa allegedly found a car similar to Banks’ parked adjacent to the partially opened study room door facing the main gate.
The court heard she handed over the cigarettes to Lovell who allegedly got into Banks’ car and drove to an unknown destination.
Bank’s car was later found on July 15, parked at the intersection of Herbert Chitepo Avenue and Mazowe Street, with his body stashed in the car’s boot where his head was covered by a plastic bag and a tightened tape around his neck.